Laura Isabel: Prologue – Chapter 1 of 5

Written by Harold McNeill on October 19th, 2010. Posted in Biographies


Laura Isabel Skarsen (McNeill)(Wheeler)
In Memory of
Laura Isabel Skarsen (McNeill) (Wheeler)
A True Canadian Pioneer
1918 – 2008

Link to Part 1 A New Beginning 
Link to part 2
 The Early Years
Link to Part 3 The Young Woman
Link to Part 4 A New Beginning
Link to Part 5 The Final Chapter

Laura Isabel: Prologue – Chapter 1 of 5

It is amazing how much the world changed during Laura’s lifetime. Born in a Southern Alberta dust storm, at five years old she was on a wagon train with her parents and grandparents as they headed to Northern Saskatchewan in order to create a new life on a homestead.

She grew into adulthood in the Great Depression as clouds of dust blanketed the prairies and jobless men road freight trains in search of work. The ‘great’ depression barely ended when the Second World War seized the world in it’s powerful grip. It was a character building period that began in the ashes of one world war and ended with the euphoria that accompanied the years following World War II.

The first 30 years of her life were spent without the benefit of electricity or running water, with food that was largely home grown and preserved by the family. The long, sometimes, bitterly cold prairie winters, created a family closeness that would hold for a lifetime.

Laura and every sibling was born at home and medical help was often days away.  Families frequently numbered ten or more and everything was shared among family and friends whenever the need arose.

For the next 60 years Laura lived and watched as the world of technology took mankind to the moon, built a space station and explored Mars as everyone watched from their living room; a world where families communicated instantly by email and maintained daily contact by sharing pictures, stories and playing games on Facebook.

Even well into her eighties, Laura was willing to do and try new things – like a purchasing a new Digital Video Recorder (DVR) for her TV. Make no mistake that little gadget can frustrate a technologically savvy thirty something so it was neat to phone Laura and hear her say, “Just a moment while I pause this program” or if you dropped by and she was in the middle of her favourite daytime show say, “It’s okay, I can watch it later I have it recorded, can you stay for coffee?”

Harold and Lynn McNeill
June 2008

Footnote:

The following short biography first appeared in a Laura’s Heritage Cookbook, completed in the spring of 2008 as surprise for her 90th birthday party.  The idea of the book originated with Lynn while mom was living with our family in Victoria in 2005.  When mom came to stay, she brought with her a large file filled with her favorite recipes; Most were handwritten, a few typewritten, a few torn from other books and many had little notes jotted in the margins to remind her of the source of the recipe, a story associated with that recipe or another small memory.

Unbeknown to mom, Lynn spirited the recipes away, photocopied each of the more than two hundred pages and secreted the copies for future use. Over the next three years Lynn transcribed the entire package, all with the intention that one day compiling a recipe book.

With mom’s 90th birthday was approaching in 2008, there seemed no better time to put the plan into action.  Over several weeks Lynn categorized and formatted the recipes using a program designed for that purpose.  Meanwhile, I began searching for photographs for insertion in the book and, as well, began writing a short biography to be used as an introduction. The biography, with corrections and updates, is presented in this five part blog entry.

The whole process took much longer than expected and as the clock clicked toward the day of our departure from Victoria, we frantically worked to complete the final draft. It was taken to the printer two day’s before our departure and on the evening before departure, the first 150 copies came off the press.

For this blog entry, a larger selection of photographs represent each of the four major periods of mom’s life. More in depth stories of the life and times of Mom, Dad and our family are presented in the Family Stories section.

Harold McNeill
October 2010

Link to part 2 The Early Years

Link to Part 3 The Young Woman

Link to Part 4 A New Beginning

Link to Part 5 The Final Chapter

 

(1980)

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Comments

  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.

  • Harold McNeill

    February 17, 2020 |

    Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,” and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

    Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria. Continued in the article.

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  • Harold McNeill

    February 15, 2020 |

    Testing the comments section after changes made. Updated: February 10, 2020

    Further to the update below (February 1, 2020), I note that since the government announced a “No-Fault” insurance plan for BC, Robert Mulligan is taking a slightly different tack, suggesting that no-fault will only increase the problems by taking away the right of an injured party to sue.

    I’ve copied just one sentence from Mulligan’s longer discussion, “And I think people don’t like the idea that somebody who’s, for example, was drunk and ran into you and you become a quadriplegic is going to be treated exactly the same way you would in terms of getting benefits (go to minute 00:15:26 to see his full comment)

    Statements like this appear to be simple fear-mongering. As was the case in the past, people who commit criminal offences, as well as other forms of negligence while driving, may well lose their insurance coverage and in all likelihood would be sued by ICBC to recover costs of the claim. (Link here to Mulligan’s full conversation on CFAX radio)

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    January 5, 2020 |

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    September 18, 2019 |

    […] The Federal Conservatives and Seymour Riding Association complied but one day later those memes will be shared by every third party social media site and by thousands of supporters where the message will be taken as a statements of the fact.  Five years from now those memes will still be circulating. (Link here to background on the SNC Lavalin matter) […]